A sigh of relief: Forecast in L.A. calls for improved air quality, lower temps

Three people in silhouette are seen walking as sun rays shine through a layer of haze and smoke
Smoke from nearby brush fires obscures the sun along the Hansen Dam on Thursday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Residents in Los Angeles County can breathe a little easier this weekend, as air quality is expected to improve for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The National Weather Service said Friday that a front of cold, low-pressure air moving in from the northwest will help clear out some of the wildfire smoke that has been smothering much of the region.

“We’re expecting better today, even better tomorrow and through the weekend,” Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the weather service in Oxnard, said Friday.


The full benefits of the cold front will be felt in the northern portion of the state, Hoxsie said, but L.A. will receive “enough of the tail that it’ll make a big difference.”

The system will also bring a dip in temperatures — another relief after record-setting heat this month.

But residents eager to get outdoors should wait until late in the weekend to resume activities, as the South Coast Air Quality Management District has extended its smoke advisory through Saturday afternoon.

The air around Southern California feels like smoke soup because of wildfires. What does that mean for your health and daily routines?

Sept. 15, 2020

Moderate air quality readings may also shift toward unhealthful levels during the day, especially in areas near the Bobcat, El Dorado and Snow fires.

“It’s about how you feel as a person because we all react differently to wildfire smoke,” said Meredith Kurpius, assistant director at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air and Radiation Division. People should curtail exertion and outdoor activities if they feel symptomatic at any time, regardless of air quality readings, she said.

Symptoms linked to poor air quality include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and aggravated asthma.

The precise timing of the air quality shift depends on how quickly the low-pressure trough moves in, Hoxsie said.

“It’s nice to be able to pass along good news,” she said.

As smoky skies blanket the West, researchers look a the lasting health impacts by studying a Montana town previously smothered by wildfire smoke.

Sept. 18, 2020